Escaping our basement room of Super 8 as quickly as possible, we found Black Hills Bagels thanks to my handy-dandy guide book. (On account of which I have been mocked on many occasions in the past…but not this morning!) Then headed east into the Black Hills towards Mount Rushmore.
It IS exciting to see the four faces sculpted into the rock for the first time. And then a little confusing as to why it needs so much hoopla. We were fortunate enough to happen upon a ranger-led “multicultural” tour under the Presidents’ noses where we sprinkled a little education into our adventure.
And then we sprinkled it with some serious kitsch in Keystone. Fried pickles, buffalo burgers, Indian tacos, and two dudes – one with a bullwhip (he was 7’2″!) and one with a gun – in the middle of the street peddling their wares. Meaning, shooting the gun into the air and cracking the whip. We got right out of town.
Iron Mountain Road, which is part of Norbeck’s National Scenic Byway is unbelievable for its twists and turns and tunnels and one-lane wooden overpasses. We learned this very early on when we rounded a hairpin turn to find the couple on the motorcycle, which had been just ahead of us, on the ground under their bike. Fortunately, they were safe and back on their way after a few strong hands righted the motorcycle and helped push it out of the brush.
We didn’t make it much further before we intentionally pulled off the road. The allure of the jutting rocks was just too much for the boys in the car. They needed to conquer them. We all did. I was lucky enough to savor a few moments alone – watching a hawk soaring above the hills – and marvel at the stark contrast of my past hour.
In Custer State Park, we watched a line of buffalo and their calves march across a canyon field. We passed alpine fields and beautiful hills of pine trees on our way to the Crazy Horse Memorial. You could see him from a distance, but instead we paid $24 to see him just a little bit closer. Once we were inside the gates, an introductory movie, artifacts, photographs, a gift shop, the sculptor’s home and studio, a marketplace of sorts, and the view of the mountain itself held us captive for about two hours longer than we thought it would.
The car was relatively quiet for the next hour. Yes, electronics played a part, but so did the audio book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown. The kids were actually listening now. How can I be sure? Every 15 minutes of so, Eli of the neon-orange cap would pipe up, “White people are jerks.”